🎧 Future doom and the rose-coloured past (Future Tense)

Listened Future doom and the rose-coloured past from Radio National

Why do we see the past through rose-coloured glasses, but not the future? Psychologists tell us that human beings have a tendency to be fearful and pessimistic about the future, while simultaneously romanticising the past.

If the theory is true, it might help explain the difficulties we often have in making informed decisions and effectively planning for the future.

And it could give us an insight into why populist politics is on the rise.

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Guests

Carter Phipps – Author and Managing Director of the non-profit Institute for Cultural Evolution

Dr Steven Pinker – Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Dr Art Markman – Professor of Psychology and Marketing, University of Texas at Austin, Executive Director IC2 Institute

Dr Roy Baumeister – Professor of Psychology, University of Queensland

Antony Funnell leads an investigation into our pessimistic outlook on the world. Steven Pinker traces our tendency towards the news and negativity back to the Hebrew prophets. Roy Baumeister suggests that our tendency to undervalue the future and celebrate the past is a defence mechanism. Art Markman talks about the dangers of our tendency towards revolution, rather than evolution. This reminds me of an education debate from a few years ago. One of the ideas that closed the podcast was:

Whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right.

I was intrigued by Pinker’s data dashboard, but concerned about the objective truth provided by data. For example, the Grattan Institute recently released a report stating that the prosperity of young people is going backwards. Would this then be a point of focus, but not a dire prediction?

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